Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Corporal Works of Mercy

When an ex-evangelical like myself hears of terms like the above for the first time, I think "corporal punishment", "good works" blah, blah, blah etc. Sometimes my spiritual eyes would glaze over when I read or heard anything that sounded Catholic and I missed out on much truth and edifying material because of that.

The seven practices (works) of Catholic charity toward our neighbor's body (corpora) are:


1. Feeding the hungry
2. Giving drink to the thirsty
3. Clothing the naked
4. Sheltering the homeless
5. Visiting the sick
6. Visiting the imprisoned
7. Burying the dead

In this modern society, there is still ample opportunity to perform most of these if not directly than through the "dreaded work of dragging out the pen" and writing a check to an organization that does do these things.

One might say "Here they go again, Catholics talking about good works." Do we need to do these to get to Heaven?
I can assure you, Catholics believe that no one gets to Heaven without the redemptive work of Christ. He suffered and died for our sins and restored our fellowship with God. That being said, we also believe Scripture teaches that being empowered by God's grace to perform good works is a also a key component since "faith without works is dead". Catholics believe in faith and works, not faith or works. Let's hear what Jesus has to say about the works of mercy and how they figure into our eternal destiny. Matt 25

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,
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and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
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He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
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Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
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For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
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naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'
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Then the righteous will answer him and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
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When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
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When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
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And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
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Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
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For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
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a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
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Then they will answer and say, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?'
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He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
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And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


3 Comments:

Blogger Howard Fisher said...

"I can assure you, Catholics believe that no one gets to Heaven without the redemptive work of Christ. He suffered and died for our sins and restored our fellowship with God. That being said, we also believe Scripture teaches that being empowered by God's grace to perform good works is a also a key component since "faith without works is dead"."

Tiber,

I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, But it depends on what is meant. Much of Evangelicalism may not understand the role of works. The problem is that many groups tend to either swing to legalism or antinomianism. The historic Protestant Reformation recognized that certain elements of faith must be distinguished but not be separated.

"Catholics believe in faith and works, not faith or works."

Your citing Matt 25 defines this statement. The problem in your explanation is that you must deny Penal Substitutionary Atonement. Therefore the works you do are meritorious, for by faith they gain the merits of Christ.

There is simply no way of having peace with God. Without the doctrine of imputation so clearly taught in Romans 4 & 5, you must by definition deny the Gospel. This is the heart of the matter, which is why I keep asking about it.

Here are some quotes from the LBCF 1689 explaining the relationship of faith and works:

Justification

1. Those whom God Effectually calleth, he also freely (a) justifieth, not by infusing Righteousness into them, but by (b) pardoning their sins, and by accounting, and accepting their Persons as (c) Righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone, not by imputing faith it self, the act of beleiving, or any other (d) evangelical obedience to them, as their Righteousness; but by imputing Christs active obedience unto the whole Law, and passive obedience in his death, for their whole and sole Righteousnnss, they (e) receiving, and resting on him, and his Righteousness, by Faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.

2. Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ, and his Righteousness, is the (f) alone instrument of Justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving Graces, and is no dead faith, (g) but worketh by love.

5. God doth continue to (o) Forgive the sins of those that are justified, and although they can never fall from the state of (p) justication; yet they may by their sins fall under Gods (q) Fatherly displeasure; and in that condition, they have not usually the light of his Countenance restored unto them, untill they (r) humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith, and repentance.

Sanctification:

1. They who are united to Christ, Effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new Spirit created in them, through the vertue of Christ's death, and Resurrection; are also (a) farther sanctified, really, and personally, through the same vertue, (b) by his word and Spirit dwelling in them; (c) the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, (d) and the several lusts thereof, are more and more weakned, and mortified; and they more and more quickened, and (e) strengthned in all saving graces, to the (f) practice of all true holyness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

1. They who are united to Christ, Effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new Spirit created in them, through the vertue of Christ's death, and Resurrection; are also (a) farther sanctified, really, and personally, through the same vertue, (b) by his word and Spirit dwelling in them; (c) the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, (d) and the several lusts thereof, are more and more weakned, and mortified; and they more and more quickened, and (e) strengthned in all saving graces, to the (f) practice of all true holyness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much (k) prevail; yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ the (l) regenerate part doth overcome; and so the Saints grow in Grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, (m) pressing after an heavenly life, in Evangelical Obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in his Word hath prescribed to them.

Of Good Works

1. Good Works are only such as God hath (a) commanded in his Holy word; and not such as without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, (b) or upon any pretence of good intentions.

2. These good works, done in obedience to Gods commandments, are the fruits, and evidences (c) of a true, and lively faith; and by them Believers manifest their (d) thankfullness, strengthen their (e) assurance, edifie their (f) brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries and glorifie (g) God whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus (h) thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end (i) eternal life.

3. Their ability to do good works, is not at all of themselves; but wholly from the Spirit (k) of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an (l) actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in (m) stirring up the Grace of God that is in them.


Of The Last Judgment:

2. The end of Gods appointing this Day, is for the manifestation of the glory of his Mercy, in the Eternal Salvation of the Elect; (d) and of his Justice in the Eternal damnation of the Reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient; for then shall the Righteous go into Everlasting Life, and receive that fulness of Joy, and Glory, with everlasting reward, in the presence (e) of the Lord: but the wicked who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into Eternal torments, and (f) punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.


In this last paragraph, Matt 25 is cited in support of it. Reformed Protestants understand that the sheep and goats are separated by their works. It is our works that declare who we are, but they do not justify or declare righteous. To use Jesus’ example, a tree is known by its fruit.

God Bless

Howard

October 28, 2006 12:08 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

Thanks for the comment Howard. We will have to agree to disagree here. God bless

October 28, 2006 6:38 PM  
Blogger Tiber Jumper said...

To Howard,
I can appreciate your fervor in defending strongly what you believe. However there is a significant portion of Christendom (Protestant and Catholic) that don't hold to the tenets of reformed theology (Calvinism.) Not all godly Christians share your (Calvin's)interpretation of Romans 4 and 5 and I can't agree with you that they "deny the gospel."
I hope my blog can be helpful to those who want to take a look at Catholicism in a way they never considered, but I am not capable nor desirious of debating the Calvinistic theology here.

I am not a theologian, just a revert to the Catholic Church who loves Jesus and His Church and desirous to let others know the treasure that awaits them if only they'd look into a bit.
God bless you

October 30, 2006 6:36 PM  

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